Injured skiers being taken by sled to snow cat

By Baker City Herald staff February 12, 2014 01:46 pm

The two backcountry skiers who were seriously injured during an avalanche Tuesday are being hauled out of the mountains by way of ski-sleds, Baker County Undersheriff Warren Thompson said this afternoon.

Rescuers began bringing the two skiers out about 12:22 p.m. today, Thompson said.

Two other skiers, one a client from the Seattle area and the other a guide from Wallowa Alpine Huts of Joseph, were killed in the avalanche.

Four others, three clients and another guide, were not injured. The three clients were rescued Tuesday night.

The uninjured guide stayed with the two injured skiers last night.

Two National Guard helicopters are on the ground in Halfway awaiting an improvement in the visibility, Thompson said.

If the weather improves the helicopters can airlift the injured skiers almost immediately for an approximately 15-minute flight to St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City, Thompson said.

If the weather prevents the airlift, it will take the rescue crews an estimated four to five hours to bring the injured skiers to where a snow cat is waiting, he said. The snow cat will then need about one hour to bring the skiers to where the helicopters can pick them up. The snow cat is about 2 to 2-1/2 miles from where the avalanche happened.